This is the story of an International Scout in the digital age. While most truck restorations take place in home garages, Steve Beals restored his special edition 1964 International Red Carpet Scout 80 in the public eye, via streaming video webcasts.
Beals, a Scout enthusiast for 20 years and owner of Scoutparts.com, had been casting about for a worthwhile restoration vehicle. He finally found a possible candidate on eBay. The North Carolina seller had inherited the truck from his grandfather and was initially looking to part it out.
The Scout had been stashed in a barn for 30 years. It was rusted and had a crack in the cylinder head of its 152ci Comanche 4-cylinder engine. The Scout 80 was complete and had just one dent the size of a dime. An armrest cover was the only missing piece. Beals had one other scrap of information—the Scout was a rare original Red Carpet Series. It is especially risky to purchase a vehicle sight unseen and ship it across the country, but Beals convinced the owner to sell the truck whole and bought it.
In 1960, four-wheel-drive passenger vehicles were hard to find, and only Jeep 4X4s were widely available. Jeeps of that era were not family-friendly vehicles. Top speed was about 45 mph, and the driver sat on the gas tank. The driver always either smelled gas or smelled like gas. The fabric top made so much noise that many people took it off and drove exposed to the weather. The only alternative at the time was the unfamiliar British Land Rover. Not only were Land Rover parts hard to find, but also the trucks were held together by a combination of metric and imperial thread screws. Complicating matters further, the likelihood of receiving spare parts from England during this time was a 50/50 proposition at best. Many packages did not arrive. Land Rover was too unfamiliar and expensive, and most North Americans did not consider it an option.
New Design And Market
In 1960, Ted Ornas, the famous International Harvester designer, created the Scout 80 with the idea of selling it to the average U.S. customer who wanted to do some off-road driving while also keeping an eye on affordability and drivability. Ornas even thought about marketing it to the women in the family, which at that time was forward thinking. Ornas's vision was spot-on, and his Scout would become International's all-time, best-selling truck.
The Scout 80 design combined simplicity and elegance. Its electrical system was uncomplicated, its suspension, simple but tough. With much effort the doors could be removed. The windshield folded down, so you could slowly drive down country roads and shoot at game without a pesky windshield in the way.
In 1965, the Scout 80 was updated and called the Scout 800. The folding windshield was discontinued, the axles were upgraded, the dashboard was totally redesigned, and many new options were offered. But by today's standards, this was still very primitive buckboard technology.
International Scouts were unexpectedly successful. International anticipated selling 5,000 to 10,000 Scouts per year, but in the first year alone, 28,031 were sold. Within 31/2 years, International was hitting the 100,000 mark*.
In celebration of building 100,000 Scouts in a remarkably short time, International produced two special edition Scouts: the Red Carpet and the Champagne (the Champagne Scout seems to be particularly elusive). Beals' truck was likely the 30th Red Carpet off the production line based on the number "30" found penciled on multiple parts, under the hood, and behind the dash.
Doll It Up
"DOLL-UP-SCOUT" was stamped in large type on the line setting ticket that followed a Scout that was destined to be a Red Carpet edition down the production line. These models had red carpet, of course, as well as red and white headliners, special dash parts, and red steering wheels, seats, and shifters. Two special badges appeared on the exterior of the doors. One was a gold "custom" emblem; the other was a decal that read "100,000 Red Carpet Series Scout by International." The company also offered a custom-made decal allowing the dealer to place his own personal name on the door and use the Scout to make sales calls. This was quite a bit of bling for a truck in this time period. According to a Scout dealer in the '60s, only two Red Carpet Scouts were made available to each dealer. Most dealers did not order both, and many did not order even one.
Advertising for the Red Carpet was also unusual. The original press release photograph shows a woman about to climb into the driver's seat of her pristine Scout. The press release advertises a luxurious truck: "Sparkling white finish highlights an interior of high-pile red carpet, red upholstery and red trim."
Realizing what a treasure he had, Beals decided to broadcast the restoration entirely online for other Scout 80 restoration enthusiasts. The project began on Friday, October 30, 2009, and every Scout 80 part was completely disassembled that day. Each nut and bolt was removed. All the Scout parts were then restored or replaced. The entire body, frame, and most other parts were sandblasted or media-blasted. Everything was repainted with original International Harvester colors, with the exception of the frame and undercarriage, which were powder-coated black. All the Scout's seals were replaced with newly manufactured Scout 80 weather stripping.
The most challenging aspect of the restoration was fixing the rusted-out body parts and the paint. The top had a seal that had failed just above the windshield frame. This failure lead to the windshield frame and much of the body on the driver's side rusting out and needing to be completely replaced.
The wiring harness presented another challenge. The wiring itself was simple, but it was difficult to locate exact matches to the wire and connectors. Searching all three of the ScoutParts.com warehouses turned up no new connectors, so some original plastic connectors had to be preserved and reused. Hours of painstaking attention to detail resulted in an exact replica of the original harness.
The lovely red dash pad of the Red Carpet Scout had become very fragile with age. It had to be cleaned, repaired, and chemically flash softened to add flexibility. Finally, it was repainted with special polyvinyl chloride paint to bring it back to the original color.
Beals is most proud of the new hydraulic and fuel systems. Many new parts had to be manufactured, and replacing the brake and clutch hydraulic lines and junctions to recreate the factory components was really more art than science. Getting every detail correct was a time-consuming process, but he feels the result was well worth the investment.
Beals said that bringing the Scout back to life was sheer pleasure, but he had other reasons to take on this full restoration project. Restoring the truck also provided valuable training for his staff at ScoutParts.com. It was an excellent opportunity to test-fit reproduction and newly re-engineered parts and a chance to develop new parts or part modifications. By using its own parts to restore the Scout, the company ensured that the parts it sells work perfectly.
Every Friday became "Red Carpet work day" at the Portland warehouse. Beals, Ken Woodard, and Nick James (an ASE certified master mechanic) performed the full truck restoration and broadcast their progress in video online. At one point, more than 250 people were watching online, with about 1,000 people watching throughout the day. The project became so popular that Scoutparts.com had to triple its internet bandwidth. Beals estimated his audience represented 30 countries—truly international interest—with a large number of viewers from England, Australia, and Denmark.
The restoration was complete on July 1, 2010. Beals' Red Carpet Scout 80 took first place for Scout 80 and 800 at the Great Western Binder Bee in Brooks, Oregon. The truck is slated to be in many parades and auto shows during the coming years. Many additional photos of this restoration—before, during, and after—can be seen at www.scoutparts.com/gallery